June 21, 2024

To address the negative perceptions about dams and hydropower and highlight the benefits that hydropower can provide the community, the Department of Energy, in partnership with the Office of Civil Defense, recently mounted a pivotal writeshop to help enhance the drafted National Dam Safety Guidelines and proposed Dam Safety Bill.

“We want to address the negative impact or perceptions people have on dams and hydropower. When you say hydro, people think about flooded communities and inundation, about its effects on livelihood. We are hoping to change the way people see hydro by addressing dam safety guidelines,” said Andy Ulgado, Renewable Energy Management Bureau (REMB) Division chief for Hydro and Ocean.

DOE and REMB have been intensively promoting renewable energy (RE) resources in the country, aligned with the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) 2020-2040.

In spearheading the writeshop, DOE amplifies the establishment of safety regulations with regards to the building and operating of hydroelectric dams in the country.

The writeshop is held in coordination with the Development of Renewable Energy Applications Mainstreaming and Market Sustainability (Dreams), a project of the DOE in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

It was attended by representatives from the technical working group of the National Committee on Dam Safety (NCODS-TWG) in charge of refining the bill to improve the regulation, implementation, and information dissemination among offices concerned with dam safety.

“There are many other ways hydropower can be harnessed, too, not just with high dams. There are waterfalls. There are run-off rivers where you redirect only a small amount of water from a river, harness its power in a (hydropower) plant and then return it to the river,” Ulgado cited as examples.

“The positives that hydropower can give back to the community outweigh the negatives, especially when environmental standards are met,” he added.

Professor Emeritus Dr. Guillermo Q. Tabios III of the University of the Philippines College of Engineering, consultant to the NCODS-TWG and UNDP-GEF Dreams Project, highlighted the importance of political will in pushing the guidelines and policies necessary in ensuring dam safety.

Raquel de Leon, officer-in-charge of the OCD-DRRM Development and Standards Division added OCD’s regional offices have been throwing their support for RE.

“As the country subscribes to various international frameworks such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Agreement, RE should be a priority agenda of the government. Investing in renewables is one of the most significant steps in addressing climate change and pursuing our country’s climate agendas,” de Leon said.

The NREP aims to boost RE shares in the country’s power generation mix, in accordance with the Renewable Energy Act of 2008. Through this program, the DOE supports local RE investments that will fast-track the country’s achievement of energy security, self-reliance, and climate change mitigation. – Press release